WHAT: Sometimes the most austere movies can become political fireballs. This video-film about the repercussions of a young man's violent acts upon representatives of the Chinese state upon the man's mother Wang Jingmei, has created its own state repercussions on its filmmaker, documented up through October on this website. Now it finally has its first screenings inside the United States, and I was able to view it. Nothing I could say, however, would be as cogent as what Michael Sicinski wrote on the film last summer. A sample:
Part of what makes When Night Falls excel as a work of cinema, as well as a political intervention, comes from Ying’s harnessing of isolation and pathos for the express purpose of displaying, through spatial articulation and physical bombardment, what it feels like when the entire apparatus of the Chinese government bears down on a lone individual. A great deal of this results from Nai’s performance as Wang, whose slow, hunched movements through Ying’s deep, recessed compositions return a specific social valence to Antonioni/Tsai architectural imprisonment. One particularly fine shot finds Wang walking alone through a street towards the camera as an unseen loudspeaker trumpets the “splendid” Olympic Games. A woman bikes past her quizzically. The scene would be Kafkaesque except there is no paranoia, only bone-aching sorrow.WHERE/WHEN: Has one final CAAMFest screening today at 3:00 at the Kabuki.
WHY: If you haven't yet had a chance to sample the wave of micro-budgeted video features coming out of China, this is a good opportunity to start. Though some of Ying's prior films have screened at local festivals before, most of the examples of this wave seen by Frisco Bay cinema audiences have been documentaries like those presented at showcases at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and New People. Though I got a sense of Taking Father Home as less evidently excited about the possibilities of oppositional filmmaking than some of the best of these documentaries I've sampled (notably Ghost Town and Disorder), it helps round out a more complete picture of the kind of image-making being performed well outside the sanction of the Beijing government, and would give a newcomer to the movement a strong sample of the political and aesthetic strategies being utilized in the world's most populated country.
HOW: Digital presentation of a digital production.